SACRAMENTO (AP) — California is at the "epicenter" of global warming and other climate change, with the state experiencing longer fire seasons, rising sea levels and droughts that threaten agriculture, Gov. Jerry Brown said Monday.
The governor made his remarks during a conference about the climate, as California was mopping up from a string of wildfires in San Diego County that caused more than $20 million in damage.
The event also came as scientists warn that higher temperatures will lead to more frequent and intense wildfires throughout the West, and after scientists confirmed that the huge West Antarctic ice sheet is beginning to collapse and could boost sea levels as much as 12 feet.
Brown said California has had almost twice the number of forest fires this year compared to normal levels, and the fire season is now 70 days longer than it was historically, adding that "we've got to adapt because the climate is changing."
The Democratic governor said Californians drive almost 1 billion miles a day at the same time the state is aggressively trying to reduce carbon emissions. He said making the switch to a culture that is less dependent on burning fossil fuels won't be easy.
"To make that transition, it's going to take political will, it's going to take investment, and it's going to take the support of the people in the state and ultimately the people in the country, because we can't do it alone," Brown said.
Brown often cites his plan for a $68 billion high-speed rail system linking Northern and Southern California as among the solutions to reduce carbon emissions, but he did not bring up the project on Monday.
Lawmakers in the state capital are debating whether to include $250 million in revenue from cap-and-trade pollution credits to help pay for the bullet train, as Brown wants.
About a dozen protesters rallied outside the auditorium where Brown spoke, urging him to end hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas and chanting, "We're going to beat back his frack attack."
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